At the seventh time of asking over the last two seasons, Kenilworth finally managed to avoid defeat against a Warwick University side last night. In fact, we did rather better than not losing - we actually went and won! Having never managed to score better than 1-3 in those other games, a 3-1 win must count as one of our best Coventry League performances so far. Our visitors were not at full strength (many thanks to our very own Paul Lam for not turning out against us, for instance!) but still fielded a more than respectable team that had virtual grading parity with us. But after convincingly defeating Rugby last week, our boys clearly had the scent of blood in their nostrils as they went into battle.
Yet again, Carl set the tone, coming out of the starting gate like a greyhound on steroids and making a bee-line for the Black king. On the very same day that Gawain Jones had used the Barry Attack to knock over a strong GM at the Tata Steel Challengers, Carl wielded the same opening like a meat cleaver to hack his way to a swift victory against Felix McPeake, with a crushing attack down the h-file. I don't know what Carl's having for breakfast these days (raw meat??) but whatever it is, it's certainly working - can I have some of the same, please?
Maybe I was inspired by sitting next to this hack-attack, as I also secured a very quick checkmating win down the h-file against Louise Head, but with the black pieces. Games like this are why you play the King's Indian. I actually went slightly wrong in the opening against my opponent's strange set-up, but luckily she then went even more wrong and my pawns positively yomped up the board, blasting a path for my queen to reach h4, and then a rook lift via f6 to h6 forced mate on move 23. Something of a redemptive victory for me after the agony of the previous night's game against Olton.
And that was basically it as far as excitement went. As Black, Ben played an early advance of his queenside pawns against Andy Pollock, and while one got as far as a3 it looked a little lonely, with his minor pieces struggling for good squares to support it. I was slightly worried, but probably that was just a captain's natural neurosis kicking in. Ben did what was necessary and, while I was immersed in my post-mortem, secured a draw to clinch the match victory.
All this time - and long after - Mike was sweating blood against Steve Turvey on Board 4, possibly spurred on by my recent reference to him as the Kenilworth Drawmeister. He turned down draw offer after draw offer, forced the virtually complete immolation of a Black bishop on g8 and pressed for all he was worth. There was a chance for a piece sac for a couple of pawns and a total mess, but full compensation - if it existed - was of a very long range nature, and the moment - correctly for practical purposes - passed. Thereafter Steve defended an inferior position well, and was able to erect an impenetrable fortress in a bishop v knight ending. So sorry, Mike, but your record for the season now goes to 11 draws in 16 games!
Following two games in the 4NCL at the weekend, and consecutive evening games on Monday and Tuesday, I'm now off for a lie down in a darkened room. If I wake up in time I shall hopefully see a goodly few of you at the Engine on Thursday! Chess - don't you just love it?!?!